Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Global Hawks/U-2 over disaster stricken Japan

The U.S. military will send an unmanned Global Hawk high-altitude reconnaissance plane to take photos and infrared images of Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a Japanese government source told Kyodo News on Wednesday. The images could help workers figure out what's going on inside the radiation-contaminated buildings.

In related news:

3/16/2011 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- In response to the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan and the resulting tsunami, Pacific Air Forces is utilizing an RQ-4 Global Hawk from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to assist the government of Japan in disaster relief and recovery efforts.

The Global Hawk, a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, referred to as a remotely piloted aircraft, is being used to help assess damage to towns, industrial infrastructure, and other facilities affected during the earthquake and flood waters.

"The Global Hawk is an ideal ISR asset to aid in disaster relief," said Gen. Gary North, PACAF commander. "It directly complements ongoing efforts in the region and represents how advanced technology can provide crucial and timely support to senior leadership officials and search, recovery and disaster relief efforts."

The Global Hawk was also used for disaster relief efforts following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010. This will be the aircraft's first use in a humanitarian operation in the Pacific theater since it was permanently assigned at Andersen AFB in September 2010.

With approximately 30 hours of flight endurance, the Global Hawk provides a broad view of the situation on the ground. Its ability to survey large geographic areas also offers decision-makers and first responders near real-time information to assess damage and prioritize for local need. Its long airborne dwell capacity also assures continuous and long-lasting-support for whatever requirements the Government of Japan may require.

"The Global Hawk and the expertise offered by our Airmen further enhances the country's already robust capabilities as our Air force members work side by side with Japan's Self Defense force professionals," said General North.

Based at Guam, the aircraft allows the U.S. to effectively support contingencies throughout the region, demonstrating our commitment to partners throughout the Pacific, and is one part of a wide range of PACAF personnel and aircraft that are supporting the Japanese operations.

In conjunction with the Global Hawk, another reconnaissance aircraft, a U-2, also deployed from the region, is also being used to provide imagery of damage for the Japanese recovery operations.

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